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Full Details On Pac-12 Policy Limiting Contact In Practices

Collisions like this will be limited in Pac-12 practices.
Collisions like this will be limited in Pac-12 practices.
Photo by Andy Wooldridge

At Pac-12 Media Days, conference Commissioner Larry Scott announced the Pac-12's new policy on contact in practices.

"The Pac-12 Conference is proud to take the lead on this issue and formalize our collective dedication to protecting the safety and health of our student-athletes," said Scott. "This policy reiterates the Conference's focus on student-athlete well-being while giving coaches ample opportunity to teach the correct tackling methods throughout the year."

Here are the full details:

As noted, its still subject to approval by the Athletic Directors, but all the coaches have had input, and have signed off on it, so expect it to be approved and implemented.

Pac-12 Conference Football Practice Policy

*Subject to approval by Pac-12 Athletics Directors

Statement and Purpose

The Pac-12 Conference is dedicated to protecting the safety, health and well being of its student-athletes.

To this end, the Conference, its Presidents and Chancellors, Athletic Directors, and Football Coaches have agreed to establish parameters for football practice and participation that go beyond the limitations currently imposed by the NCAA. This Policy codifies many of the principles already practiced by our head football coaches.

Core Principles
Proper football technique and mechanics, especially when blocking and tackling are involved, should be the priority at every football practice. The core, upper body and lower body should be utilized for contact and players should be taught to avoid using the helmet to initiate contact. Players initiating contact should neither utilize their helmet in play-making nor target the recipient of a block or tackle above the shoulders.

A. NCAA Rules—except where expressly limited below, Pac-12 institutions shall continue to abide by the football practice rules and regulations outlined in the annual NCAA Division I Manual.

B. Definition of "Full-Contact"—The Pac-12 will define "full contact" as any live tackling, live tackling drills, scrimmages or other activities where players are generally taken to the ground. "Full contact"
shall not include "thud" sessions or drills that involve "wrapping up" where players are not taken to the ground and contact is not aggressive in nature.

C. Fall / In-Season Practices—Pac-12 institutions shall only have two (2) full-contact practices per week during the football regular season ("regular season" being defined as the period between the first regular season game and the last regular season game or Pac-12 Championship Game (for participating institutions).

D. Preseason Practices—For days in which Pac-12 institutions schedule a two-a-day practice, full contact shall only be allowed in one practice (the other practice is limited to helmets and shoulder pads). If full-contact practices are scheduled consecutively around one of the two-a-day full contact practices, only one of those practices shall be more than 50% full-contact. By way of example, if a morning session of a two-a-day practice is full-contact, that morning session practice or the preceding one-a-day practice would be limited to no more than 50% full-contact.

E. Spring Practices—Pac-12 institutions shall schedule spring practices so that of the eight (8) permissible full-contact practices, only two (2) of those full-contact practices occur in a given week. (NCAA rules define these eight (8) practices as practices involving "tackling".) This rule will be subject to instances where inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances have constricted or otherwise altered a previously finalized spring schedule that complied with this rule.

The biggest point to take from the policy is that there will be increased time to allow for recovery from the effects of contact before another bludgeoning occurs. Other than reducing the total number of collisions, it won't, and can't, prevent the affects of high energy traumatic events, but the cumulative affects of repetitive trauma and the increased risk resulting from putting already contact-weary players in position for more collisions will be greatly reduced.

Only 2 full contact practices per week during the season will be allowed, and full contact practices can not occur on consecutive days in spring and preseason camps.

There will be a maximum of 8 total full contact practices in the spring, and no more than 2 per week, which may result in spring schedules being extended, since the acclimation rules that apply to the first 5 practices essentially eat up the first week. Some teams may elect not to use their full allotment in the spring, which could have the greatest impact on the players at the bottom of the roster, and the youngest players, who are trying to work their way up the ladder. Making sure time is well spent has never been more important.

Basically, only half a practice can be full-contact on days with 2 practices.